Transitional Justice

The concept of transitional justice has several meanings and its philosophy is based on the precept that any state that wishes to move towards democracy should sever all ties with the mistakes and tragedies of the past. This means ensuring that those mistakes do not reoccur which necessitates revising past mistakes and holding those responsible accountable for their actions. In some countries this took the form of truth and reconciliation committees. These Committees do not aim to prosecute anyone, but ensure that crimes and mistakes be admitted. There are many experiences which concentrated on documenting the violations that took place. I believe that it is necessary to ignore the past and concentrate on the future, although traces of past mistakes still exist and there has not been a consensus as to their solution. The Government attempted to compensate those who had suffered in the past, but some saw this as political opportunism and looked for political condemnation rather than a practical solution as a means of overcoming the heavy legacy of the past.

Moreover, the political climate during last few years has been tense, and this made implementing the detailed concept of transitional justice a difficult task. The tense political climate and tensions in the street, all make it very difficult (but not impossible) to implement transitional justice. It must be said that those who believe in transitional justice had participated in creating this climate of tension.

What is important is that the Government should always be creative and take the initiative. Advocates of transitional justice should understand the political circumstances and keep in mind that justice has two faces, for not only does the Government make mistakes but so did the opposition. We are therefore in need of national reconciliation and we should rise above the wounds to admit the truth even if it is not in our best interest. All this requires a positive atmosphere for change, as no one seems to want to admit their own mistakes, and instead are determined to condemn the Government only.

Hasan Moosa Shafaei